I’m Sitting Here Contemplating Two Things.
One: “According to Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species,’ it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives. But, the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” - Leon C. Megginson
It’s essential to be able to make the shift from being a victim of the situations that have occurred in your life to claiming any parts that are yours to claim. Or, at a minimum, acceptance around what is. (Acceptance and ownership around how our thoughts about any and all circumstances that have occurred in our lives dictate how we will/will not move forward).
I believe that in order to start living our fullest lives (a sort of survival of the fittest mentality), in order to be a person that has wisdom and grace vs vitriol and fear masked in anger, we need to make the all-important journey within —- and own our own stories.
We are not promised a life without bad things happening. That is not our birthright. And, when bad things happen, these things are “the things of life.” I think people long ago understood this. It is an unfortunate thing that as we have advanced as a society in living the kind of civilized existence we have come to, that our intellect has become a weapon against us. In a simpler time, people recognized that nature was not something that could be controlled and that life was hard and sometimes bad things happened.
As we have evolved, our belief has shifted to one that foundationally says our intellect can outwit occurrences. And, as high tech and evolved as we have become, life’s premise - or the playing field - still has not changed.
In many ways, the higher your intellectual capacity, the harder it is to separate this out. It feels as if many of us are in a battle of fighting against attempting to change the playing field instead of just playing the game.
We are caught in a cycle of believing if we can anticipate, we can avoid or circumvent. To a certain extent, there is truth to this. This is called learning and learning is what makes our experience here in this lifetime a positive one (because even when bad things happen, if we are able to learn, something positive has come out of it).
I think where this concept starts to go awry is when the tree roots of “control” start to grow entangled with the tree roots of “learning.”
Learning is so that we can do our part…not so that we can prevent something from happening. Somewhere along the way this message has been lost. Somewhere along the way it feels as if collectively we began to believe that there was a sense of control connected to these lessons. I personally believe this is the root of the large amounts of anxiety and depression and hopelessness I see in people everywhere around me these days.
Worry and anxiety seem incredibly heightened because people are struggling with not being able to control things - and they can’t seem to figure out why.
I see people falling into a victimhood mentality — believing that bad things that shouldn’t be happening, are happening. It is as if we believe on some level that we have failed - or we are failing - because we cannot control this. On top of it, we are pointing the finger at others and saying that it’s because of “them” (the people who aren’t doing what we “know” they should be doing to prevent this) and we are allowing ourselves to feel victimized (blaming any and everything outside of ourselves) and feeling justified in our anger over our current predicament.
What if we owned our part of the story (how we assign meaning to things)? What if we owned that we cannot control anything or anyone outside of ourselves and that at times things don’t go our way (as hard as this is)? What if, instead of pointing the fingers at others, we went within and recognized what was within our ability? What if we did our part or what we were capable of doing in any circumstance? What if we demonstrated instead of dictated?
What if we accepted life on life’s terms?
Might then, we be able to let go of thinking we could redesign the playing field and, instead, try our best/hardest to play a game that’s well-worth playing?
Might the “fittest survivors” be the ones who recognize their locus of control is within and adapt themselves instead of trying to change the world or its circumstances.
Yesterday I was so clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise,
So I am changing myself
If the problem is not me, then there is no solution….
Elizabeth Young holds degrees in both psychology and education and has done work in both individual and group therapy and personal coaching. She is a writer in the area of personal development. Her interests primarily center upon improving communication and helping her clients to connect to creativity and purpose. She is a two-time modern elder (MEA grad).